By Claire Brewerton, MD and co-founder of the Virtual Business Centre based in Wiltshire. Claire has run her business for more than 21 years and supports companies up and down the UK. One of the services offered is modern telemarketing.
There was a time when telemarketing meant cold call sales with a hard edge and someone babbling on the phone trying to get through their script before you hang up on them. Indeed some of you may still get that type of call even now.
At the Virtual Business Centre we do not offer that kind of service. For us telemarketing is a gentle way to start a sales process which is light touch, professional and courteous or it can be a way to maintain a relationship with an existing or potential client to ensure consistent communication and demonstrate their value as a customer.
We understand that it is all about making a customer - be it a company or a consumer -feel valued and respected. We help growing companies to maintain and build solid relationships and we accept answers if they are "yes", "no" or "maybe later."
We can be contacting potential customers through something as simple as asking if they are looking for a particular product or service; conducting market research to gather data; setting appointments with those who have made contact via other means such as social media; following up on a postal mail shot or "lumpy" mail campaign; or checking that contact details already held are still relevant and up to date (data cleansing).
Here are some ways in which we help businesses use telemarketing effectively:
- We can survey a sector or group of businesses in a geographical area to see if they have need of - and perhaps want - your product or service now or at a future time.
- We can keep in touch with people on your database to just check in or say "hello" asking for any feedback they wish to give.
- We can ensure your pipeline flows healthily with pre-qualified leads to reduce any time-wasting
- We can build, legally, a valuable database of existing customers or those who might be interested - just not right now.
- We can ensure that follow up actually happens. If someone says "not now, call me in three months" we will make that call at that time.
Companies we regularly work with include:
- Recruitment companies who want to keep in regular communication with large numbers of candidates on their books
- Estate agents who want to keep in touch with clients as they move through the process of buying, selling or even letting - or who are thinking about it in the near future
- Apprenticeship providers looking to match apprentices with companies looking for entry level staff.
- Subscription companies who want to lightly ensure their customers know they are valued on a regular but not weekly basis
Red flags when it comes to telemarketing these days include:
- Customers receive calls from random numbers offering the same service, several times a day, sometimes several days in a row.
- A long pause before anyone speaks which shows a potential customer is in a queue and the "system" has not got to them yet.
- A caller who does not allow the potential customer to speak but rushes through their script without pausing for breath.
- A caller who will not take no for answer and keeps on trying to persuade the potential customer to "buy".
- A caller who lies to the potential customer ie this is not a sales call, we just want you to answer these three questions when it clearly is a sales call.
Our mantra at the Virtual Business Centre is that people do not want to be "sold at" - they often do not mind being spoken to with respect.
Telemarketing is a sales tool as much as it is a marketing tool and a customer service tool. It should not be a stick to batter people with over the phone. It is a method by which you can build a relationship with the right customers in the right place so that when the time is right - they will buy from you.
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